Aviation

Internet, sat phones in Indian skies by next year

DELHI: In a year’s time, Indian flyers can browse the Internet while onboard.

This inflight connectivity, which was hitherto available only for defence personnel, will be offered by State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and International Mobile Satellite Organization (Inmarsat), reports The Economic Times.

“In about a year’s time, we will open satellite phone services to private companies and persons, as well as offer Internet facility on flights and ships,” BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava told ET.

Air travellers would get data via a Wi-Fi router. This will be facilitated through antennas which will link it to the nearest satellite. The bandwidth would be provided as per the tariff rolled out after necessary regulatory approvals, Shrivastava said. BSNL has already received the go ahead from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Satellite-based phone services in India were, till recently, offered by Tata Communications (TCL) after it acquired state-run Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL) in February 2008. The Tata Group company has been offering limited satellite services. But this is now being transitioned to BSNL which is now the only player to have the licence to provide satellite phone services in India.

“We are the sole licensee to provide satellite services. Inmarsat has tied up with BSNL and has already installed their equipment on our premises after being tested for law enforcement,” a top BSNL executive said. The company has also already applied for the International Maritime Organisation licence.

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